The yin and yang of collecting is the accessioning and deaccessioning of items in the collection. Accessioning is yang because you are making the collection larger—just like when you breathe in, you are making your body larger. Deaccessioning is yin because the collection becomes smaller. While reading the wonderful book, The Pleasures of Book Collecting by Salvatore Iacone, I came across this:
“Everyone attempting a new venture is certain to make mistakes. In the case of a book collector, they are the purchase of books by authors who ultimately fail to interest them, the pursuit of subjects which later prove unwanted. Under these circumstances, I believe such books should be sold at an early opportunity—even at a considerable loss, if necessary. First, because they are constant reminders of unfortunate mistakes or bad judgment, and so detract from one’s collection. Second, because it is good business to unload undesirable items and put the money into other things having better possibilities. By this method, you will be constantly improving your collection even though you are forced to accept occasional financial losses. And not only will your collection benefit, but you, too, will feel the better for it.”
That was written by Reginald Brewer in an article titled “Buying and Selling” which is reprinted in its entirety in Iacone’s book. The sentiment couldn’t have been said better by a feng shui professional.
In an early chapter on planning a book collection, Iacone says:
“The ability to integrate the items in one’s collection approximates an art, and is an admirable achievement for any collector.”
While discussing the care of books, Iacone says these wise and lovely words:
“Sunlight should never be permitted to shine on the backs or spines of treasured books, else there will be a sharp discrepancy between the color tone of the spine and the front and back covers of the book or dust jacket.”
Speaking of book covers, I happened to see a reference to The Art of American Book Covers 1875—1930 by Richard Minsky. I first checked the library system and it’s not available in the state system. So I bought it sight unseen via BookFinder, hoping it would be lovely. Well, the book exceeds my hopes—it has beautiful color photos of books covers on every page! I have never bought a book just based on its cover, but I was sorely tempted here and there as I went through Minsky’s book. I did look up certain editions on BookFinder (using their maximum publishing date search feature) and even though a couple of the books were ones that I could afford, I just couldn’t justify taking up that chunk of interior shelf space just for a cover. I have, however, used the excuse of a lovely cover as a reason for keeping a book that I already own and have considered deaccessioning. (See how naturally I used that word.)